FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 28, 2008
With Peak Season Approaching, Schumer Launches Summer 2008 Effort To Go After Rogue Helicopters That Avoid Faa Guidelines And Fly Low Over Li Communities This Summer, New "3-1-1" Network For Residents To Quickly Report Problems, Plans For Follow Up
Senator Details New Islandwide Helicopter Reporting and Monitoring Network to Ensure All Complaints are Heard and Any Violators Tracked-Down
Schumer Puts Rogue Helicopter Operators on Notice: Honor Your Agreement to Steer Clear of LI Neighborhoods This Summer
Joined by Helicopter Company Owners and Nassau and Suffolk Leaders, Senator Reports Thus Far Compliance with New Routes and Altitude Requirements Up Dramatically
With the weather getting better and thousands of helicopters set to fly out from New York City to the East End this summer, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, along with the major Long Island Helicopter Companies and local elected leaders, today unveiled their summer action plan to drive-away maddening low-flying helicopters away from Nassau and Suffolk communities. Schumer also toured the new 3-1-1 call center. After years of being plagued by scores of noisy helicopters rattling Long Islanders homes, last year Schumer brokered a landmark agreement between the FAA, the major Long Island airports, and the helicopter companies represented by the Eastern Region Helicopter Council to establish new recommended routes and altitude floors to keep choppers away from communities and the noise down. Schumer today revealed a new report showing that compliance with these new routes and altitude requirements has already increased this year. Schumer’s action plan this summer focuses on ensuring that all helicopters abide by the agreements and unveiled a new “3-1-1” helicopter complaint and monitoring network to guarantee that low-flying choppers can be quickly reported, tracked, and monitored.
“This is the summer we fight back against helicopter noise on Long Island,” Schumer said. “For far too long, residents of Nassau and Suffolk have had to suffer in silence under the deafening roar of helicopters buzzing over their homes. For the first time, we have a concrete agreement to ensure helicopters stay away from our communities and a new clear cut line of communication so rogue choppers are reported, tracked, and brought back in to line. This new call center and islandwide hotline will be a one stop shop for all Long Island residents to make sure their complaints are heard and acted on.”
New 3-1-1 Call Center
Schumer today announced that Nassau County residents will now be able to simply dial 3-1-1 from any phone to immediately report a low flying helicopter. As part of an agreement made between the Town of North Hempstead, Nassau County, and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council the new 3-1-1 Call Center will now accept all low-flying helicopter complaints for all Nassau County.
North Hempstead will log all complaints for all of Nassau County and present the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) with a weekly and monthly report which will specifically analyze patterns and location frequency. ERHC will use the data to arrange for operators to adjust accordingly when a particular area is adversely affected.
Suffolk residents can now call (845)-353-6050 to immediately report complaints and can also call East Hampton Airport at (631)-537-1130 or Gabreski Airport at (631)-852-8095 where they will also be logging and tracking complaints. A new 1-800 number for all of Suffolk County will be released in the next two weeks and will be up and running before Memorial Day.
Schumer said each complaint will compiled and shared with the ERHC on a weekly and monthly basis. ERHC has agreed to assess complaints individually and collectively and work with the Operators to adjust routes/altitudes so as to provide relief to frequent complainant areas.
Comprehensive Agreement in Place Before Memorial Day
In December of 2007, Schumer brokered an agreement with the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and East Hampton and Gabreski Airports to reduce helicopter noise over communities in Eastern Suffolk County, divert choppers away from populated areas, and encourage compliance with preferred noise abatement routes. The agreement, which came in the form of a signed letter from the operators and airports to Schumer, includes critical measures of compliance, reporting, oversight, pilot education, and community outreach, including public hotlines and websites where all of Long Island residents can report low-flying helicopters.
The agreement which includes more than 90 percent of the helicopter operators now active on Long Island, includes new noise abatement route to divert pre-existing North Shore traffic miles away from land, over water, and at a recommended altitude of at least 2,500 feet. The plan is to go in effect on May 8th, 2008. The new North Shore route will divert helicopters flying from heliports in NYC to Execution Rock Lighthouse before they begin heading East over the Long Island Sound. This will provide particular relief to the Great Neck and Port Washington peninsulas.
Over the past 3-4 months, the Eastern Region Helicopter Council has informed all operators of the new North Shore route, altitude levels and landing procedures spelled out in the agreement brokered by Schumer this winter. The new North Shore route will be published on May 8, 2008 by the FAA.
Since the agreement was signed, Schumer today revealed that there has been a 15 and 20% increase in compliance with the new guidelines for routing and altitude, respectively.
Schumer also said that in advance of this summer’s peak travel season there have been great strides made to improve the technology in place to track and monitor helicopters on Long Island who violate the agreement. The East Hampton Airport is the only airport to have a new system in place that allows for precision take-off and landing tracking. Schumer today announced that he is pushing for federal funding to install a similar system at Gabreski.
“As the warm weather rapidly approaches and with it, the disturbing din produced by low-flying helicopters, we must be persistent in our efforts to establish safe flight routes that preserve the peace for Long Island residents. People choose to settle along the North Fork because of the tranquil atmosphere inherent to the region and the noise pollution caused by the flight paths of helicopters has become much more than a nuisance – it has become a quality of life issue. With that said, we are taking significant steps to ameliorate this problem. The establishment of these call centers will put residents in touch with local government, establishing a mechanism to monitor and address the low fling concerns in an effective manner. I am so grateful to Senator Schumer for his attention to this matter and for his willingness to partner with all levels of government to come to a solution that works for air travelers and Long Island residents alike,” said Assemblyman Marc Alessi
“We applaud Senator Schumer’s leadership and support on this issue. This is an important effort to improve the quality of life of our residents in Nassau County. Senator Schumer helped us initiate this new technology several years ago and now he is at the forefront of our using it for tracking low flying helicopters. The end result will be an effective partnership with reduced noise pollution in our community,” said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaimen.
Schumer was joined by North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, East Hampton Supervisor Bill McGintee, Assemblyman Marc Alessi, East Hampton Airport Manager Jim Brundige, and Gabreski Airport Manager Anthony Ceglio.
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